An Ostrich-Plumed Hat: Chapter Fifty-Five

messenger in red light district

Above, 16-year-old messenger boy entering “crib” in Red Light district, Lewis Wickes Hine, 1913, National Child Labor Committee Collection, Library of Congress

an ostrich-plumed hat

Begin with Chapter One ~ Return to Chapter Fifty-Four

Dr. Ferdinand Peter Herff, November 1913

With the approach of the winter solstice, the darkness makes it feel much later than six o’clock. Peter fumbles with his keys to lock his office door. 

“Good evening, Dr. Herff,” booms a voice so close behind him that the doctor drops the keys on the stoop. 

“Mister Koehler, I didn’t realize you were standing there. Let me open up my office.”

“No, no, that’s unnecessary at this late hour. I merely stopped by to ask for your help. There’s a young lady, someone with whom you might be acquainted, who has begged me for assistance. I told her I would speak with you.”

“How can I be of assistance? Are you sure you wouldn’t prefer to go inside?”

“Yes. And she doesn’t want to come to your office either. I’ll make arrangements for her to meet you at a boarding house on South Santa Rosa one morning to minister discreetly to her problems.”

Continue reading “An Ostrich-Plumed Hat: Chapter Fifty-Five”

Zilker Park: Founded on a fortune made in ice

lone star ice works

Above: Lone Star Ice Works, George H. Berner and H.R. Marks, Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, Portal to Texas History

The loss in this climate is enormous and it is probably within bounds to say that at least one sixth of the gross output melts away. The manufacture of tons of ice and its delivery to customers at a cent a pound is one of the novelties of this age, and had you ever hinted such a thing 30 years ago you would have been looked upon as insane.

Austin Statesman, July 17, 1890

Born in 1858 on the banks of the Ohio River in Indiana, Andrew Jackson Zilker started working riverside as a stevedore and cabin boy while young. He stumbled across a copy of Henderson Yoakum’s extensive History of Texas, published in 1846, and began dreaming of Texas. He worked his way via riverboat to New Orleans; earned his way to Texas by driving oxcarts to San Antonio; and arrived in Austin at age 18.

The 50 cents in his pocket, according to numerous accounts, was quickly depleted – half for a bed on the first night and the other half for food. Hunger motivated him to land employment helping to construct the International-Great Northern freight depot and then the Congress Avenue Bridge over the Colorado.

Continue reading “Zilker Park: Founded on a fortune made in ice”

An Ostrich-Plumed Hat: Chapter Fifty-Four

october 1913 flood

Above, spectators stand on the Navarro Street Bridge with the floodwaters lapping just below. Photograph from UTSA Libraries Special Collections

an ostrich-plumed hat

Begin with Chapter One ~ Return to Chapter Fifty-Three

Emma Bentzen Koehler, October 1913

“Sophie,” asks Bettie Stevens, “however did you manage to return your house to normal in time for this beautiful wedding? We still don’t have the mud cleared out of the first floor.”

“Many hired hands. The Colonel posted a notice at the brewery offering double pay to any worker willing to shovel, scrub and paint by lamplight after their shifts ended. I cried myself to sleep every night thinking that, after all the planning, we would have to ask Otto and Emma to host the celebration at their house.”

“And, of course,” says Emma, “you know we would have been more than happy to have Jennie wed there. But I understand the sentimental reasons for holding the wedding in your own home.”

John shakes his head. “Eight inches of rain. It was the most frightening night of my life. One day people were whining about not enough water in the river. The next night our whole household is huddled in the attic, hoping not to get washed away.”

Continue reading “An Ostrich-Plumed Hat: Chapter Fifty-Four”